DCS to ask Treasury for more funds as budget strained dealing with riot suspects

Correctional Services was already battling with overcrowded jails, staff and budget cuts and the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it is dealing with a flood of remand detainees who are putting resources under further strain.

50 suspects appeared in the Johannesburg Central Magistrates Court on 21 July 2021 on various charges including public violence, housebreaking and theft following days of violence and looting in Gauteng. Their case was postponed to 28 July 2021. Picture: Boikhutso Ntsoko/Eyewitness News.

CAPE TOWN - Correctional Services officials have told Parliament their budget was stretched beyond breaking point as they grappled with a sudden influx of detainees in the wake of the civil unrest that rocked the country.

As of Tuesday, 1,959 people had been arrested following the mayhem of the past two weeks.

Of these, 69 were foreign nationals – that’s just 3.5% of those being held.

Department of Correctional Services officials were briefing Parliament’s justice oversight committee on Wednesday.

Correctional Services was already battling with overcrowded jails, staff and budget cuts and the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it is dealing with a flood of remand detainees who are putting resources under further strain.

Chief deputy commissioner for remand detention, Mokoetsi Mashibini, said that Treasury would be approached for more funds.

"The departmental budget is highly overstretched, beyond the limit, due to the impact of these admissions. And for that reason, the department will have to reprioritise its critical needs and also approach National Treasury to consider augmenting the allocated budget accordingly due to this unforeseen, unforeseeable and unavoidable budget expenditure."

Mashibini said that money was needed for more orange overalls, more PPE, extra food, medical costs and overtime pay.

But Justice committee chairperson, Bulelani Magwanishe, told him there was no money and pointed out DCS’s poor track record in spending its budget efficiently.

"You are not making your case any easier when there is high irregular (and) wasteful expenditure, so, as much as we understand the fact that you need more resources, but those that you have been given – use it sparingly and use it efficiently."

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